In The News

Friday followup: California drought spoils waterfall erosion field research

In January 2012, I talked to Joel Scheingross , a geology graduate student at California Technical University, as he was getting ready to instrument a waterfall plunge pool with pressure transducers. His plan was to measure how storm flows move sediment through the system, flushing out the pool's gravel and exposing its bedrock to erosion. A better understanding of processes like that could have implications for everything from managing dams to back-dating water-carved features on Mars. I emailed Scheingross recently to see how things have shaped up since then, and this is what I heard back: Unfortunately, I don't have much news to report.

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Researchers pioneer continuous groundwater quality monitoring in Ontario

As a graduate student in Ontario, Jana Levison manually sampled groundwater wells in a hay field for a week straight. Now an assistant professor in the University of Guelph's School of Engineering, Levison is investigating how a new generation of water quality sensors can move the science forward while cutting the labor back. Levison said her doctoral work in a crystalline bedrock aquifer showed monthly variations in nitrate — a common groundwater contaminant often sourced to intensive agriculture — and daily variations in E. coli. Those short-term changes got her interested in watching groundwater in a more detailed manner. "Now we have the equipment that we can do that," Levison said. That equipment includes YSI's EXO multi-parameter sondes and Satlantic's SUNA nitrate sensor.

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Courts clear EPA to address interstate air pollution under Clean Air Act

Following a multi-year legal struggle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency won the right to begin a new program aimed at reducing pollution that goes across state lines, according to a story in Chemical & Engineering News . The nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emitted from power plants in 28 states will be target under the new program. Pollution in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. will be affected by the new rules. The EPA persisted in the face of a D.C. Circuit Court ruling in December 2011, which put the program on hold. The Supreme Court, however, determined that the EPA correctly interpreted the Clean Air Act’s good neighbor provision. After the Supreme Court ruling, the program was revived.

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